My dad loved arguing about politics.
It was just what we did at our house.
That and read. I saw him read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at least three times.
And we looked up information. It seemed he sent one of us kids for a dictionary or encyclopedia more dinners than not.
It wasn’t until my older brother got married that I realized other families were different. Jack’s wife would always get nervous when things got heated. Hearing one another out was our form of bonding.
And it wasn’t just Dad. A nephew remembers my sister assigning each of her kids the side of an argument they were to take to make dinner interesting.
So I really notice articles about how to avoid discussing politics at Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t remember talking politics then; my mom’s parents took any opposition seriously, and Dad and my brothers usually were deer hunting.
But I don’t think people discuss politics enough.
When I was teaching at a Seattle-area school district, we lost an important levy and our union gave each member 10 names to call. We were to listen to voters’ concerns.
At least three of my contacts changed their minds while they were talking. One started out complaining about middle school kids trampling her flowers. The words were hardly out of her mouth before she started apologizing for being silly and petty. She’d realized she had voted an emotion, not her values.
Our views become clearer when we put them into words.
This year, for the first time, I saw an article saying it was time we spoke up to uncles who dominated table conversation with their views.
I could understand the author’s point. During the 1970s I learned to tell friends that I would not listen to racial slurs and suggest my husband call later if he needed a ride home.
But relatives are different. Family takes sides. You can mess up a lot of relationships quickly.
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What would I do if an uncle started praising Trump this year? I like to think I’d suggest we discuss it sometime when we wouldn’t be making others uncomfortable.
I might, however, just spill gravy on my lap and ask to be excused.
I’ve learned through experience not to suggest the speaker watches too much Fox News. My younger brother took that as a major insult — he did read widely. And a man at Caldwell Senior Center told me he didn’t watch TV news or read newspapers; he figured things out on his own.
I’m guessing his dad never sent him to get an encyclopedia during dinner.
I suggest starting conversations about things you are curious about. Three years ago I had a good talk with a friend about why she supported Donald Trump.
Today, I doubt I’d hear anything new.
What I’m curious about now is how Idaho farmers are doing. I’ve heard that prices haven’t dropped as much as was expected after China and other nations imposed tariffs. Yet bankruptcies are up. Is any of the $30 billion government giveaway reaching here? And is there a way to stop paving over farmland?
And the job market. Have opportunities here increased enough to keep up with the influx of people? Are kids today finding work close to home?
And should we be breach dams to save fish after they’ve survived this long?
Ask about something you’ve read or heard.
A few will pompously repeat what they’ve heard commentators say.
Others will think — and share thoughts worth your time.